Are You More Attentive Than a Goldfish?

Time magazine is reporting that according to a recent Microsoft study, our average attention spans are now down to about eight seconds.  This actually puts us as less attentive than goldfish, whose attention spans average about nine seconds.

Time reports that Canadian researchers surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs).  Since 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began), Microsoft has found that our average attention spans have dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.  The report was quoted as saying “Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media.”  On the positive side, the report says our ability to multitask has drastically improved in this new mobile age.

So what has happened?  Microsoft’s  theory is that the changes was a result of the brain’s ability to adapt and change itself over time.  Thus a weaker attention span may be a side effect of evolving to a mobile Internet.  Not surprisingly, the survey also confirmed generational differences for mobile use.  For example, 77% of people aged 18 to 24 responded “yes” when asked, “When nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone.”  This compares with only 10% of those over the age of 65.

The report’s URL is















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